July 30, 2019 By King
I work from home as a freelance writer. This means I spend at least 30 to 40 hours each week sitting at my home desk typing away in loungewear.
Once I stopped shopping online, I realized way too much of my money was going toward clothing and shoes. I leave the house during the day, of course, and on the weekends, but I was buying way more clothing than I’d ever have the time to wear, in particular nice items that wouldn’t be appropriate for a quick trip to the grocery store.
My priorities began to shift. Instead of spending money on new clothes and shoes, I focused on putting it toward worthwhile expenses like travel, cooking utensils and a new journal.
Like countless other people, I’m a sucker for buying random, last-minute items on Amazon. Out of AAA batteries for my tape recorder? Amazon Prime order. Need more laundry detergent? Hello, Amazon Prime.
By forcing myself to eschew this behavior, I realized that although convenience items are available on Amazon, they’re actually much cheaper at places like Target and Walmart. Now, instead of making meaningless Prime orders, I remember to tack on whatever I need to my grocery list.
Full disclosure: This test began as a one-month shopping ban. I figured I could make it four short weeks without shopping online. But once the ball started rolling and I realized how well I felt by not shopping online, I upped it to two months.
The first week was the hardest. I found myself incredibly tempted by emails, Facebook ads, and photos of new products from some of my favorite shops on Instagram. But every single time I saw something I wanted, I said to myself: Is this something you absolutely need in your life?
And, without a doubt, the answer was always no. As I saw my credit card balance shrink, I knew I’d made the right call.
Until this challenge, I never realized how much of my spending was closely tied to companies that were having sales. Looking back, I now see that roughly half of my purchases were tied to email marketing campaigns. I couldn’t resist the lure of Anthropologie’s extra 30 percent off sales or Everlane’s limited-edition items.
But when you buy something simply because you saw an ad for it, there isn’t a good chance you wanted or needed the item to begin with. This challenge taught me the merit of avoiding marketing emails and instead only purchasing items I’ve had my eye on for quite a while. I unsubscribed to countless email newsletters to avoid the temptation altogether.
I work from home and my husband often works long hours as a medical resident. This means I have ample time on my hands to surf the internet, especially late at night. During my shopping ban, I realized that anytime I had a slow Netflix show on, I’d open up Google Chrome and visit my favorite shops.
Oftentimes, my thought process was, I’ll just see if anything new is in stock that I like. Innocent enough, right? Not so much. Simply looking through certain shops would inevitably lead to purchases I didn’t need to make.
Once I broke my habit of visiting my favorite shops online anytime I was bored, I found I had a decent chunk of time on my hands. Without spending 30 minutes or an hour each night seeing what was for sale online, I was able to focus on activities that were not only fulfilling and productive, but didn’t cost me a penny.
Now, instead of reflexively shopping online when I’m bored, I focus my energy on other activities like reading, journaling, cooking or catching up on work.
I eventually broke my two-month shopping ban with a new bag from my favorite shop. This shop, Hiptipico, makes one-of-a-kind purses from Guatemalan textiles, meaning no two bags are alike. They had a limited release, and a unique bag caught my eye. I thought about how proud I was of my self-restraint over the past two months, and decided this was it. It was time to break my ban.
I eagerly awaited the bag’s arrival for days, and when it arrived, I was giddy with excitement. Had I purchased the bag prior to my shopping ban, I doubt it would’ve felt as special.
By the end of my two months, I felt proud of myself, but also ready to return to normal. Sure, it was entirely possible for me to not shop online, but there were things I needed after two months, like face wash from my online-only skincare shop and black heels for a wedding.
This challenge helped me reassess where my money was going. I still shop online, but I only make a couple of purchases a month. I feel better knowing not only that I’m saving money for more fulfilling expenses, but also that I’m not filling my home with random items I don’t need. I’m a far cry from being a minimalist, but I found a balance that works perfectly for me.
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